Dalai Lama's political heir visits Tawang

Ahead of the next round of boundary negotiations between the special representatives of New Delhi and Beijing, India has recently allowed the top leader of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Lobsang Sangay, to visit Tawang – a border town in Arunachal Pradesh that lies at the core of the Sino-Indian territorial dispute.

Sangay, the political heir of Dalai Lama, visited Tawang on January 25 last – just about a fortnight before Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi is expected to arrive in New Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon. He is also visiting other Tibetan settlements in Arunachal Pradesh, including the ones, which are not very far from the disputed Line of Actual Control between India and China.

Dalai Lama, himself, too is set to start a five-day visit to the northeastern states of Assam and Meghalaya on Saturday. He is expected to inaugurate a Festival of Tibetan Art and Culture in Guwahati, although a visit to Arunachal Pradesh is not scheduled.

New Delhi’s move to allow Sangay to visit Arunachal Pradesh just ahead of the boundary talks appears to be significant as Beijing claims the entire frontier state of India as part of China.

Beijing, which accuses Dalai Lama of leading a secessionist movement against it, strongly protested against the Tibetan leader’s visit to Tawang in November 2009. New Delhi, however, responded, stating that Dalai Lama, a revered spiritual leader, was an honoured guest of India and he could go anywhere in the country.

Menon and Yang are the special representatives of New Delhi and Beijing for the negotiations to resolve the boundary disputes. They are expected to meet here on February 10 for the 17th round of the boundary talks. This may be the last such dialogue between the two countries before India goes to polls in April-May.

The two special representatives for boundary negotiations had 16 rounds of talks since 2003, with the last being held in June 2013. Dalai Lama, now 78, delegated to Sangay in 2011 the political leadership of the Tibetans’ half-a-century-long struggle against China’s rule in Tibet.

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